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Connections coming

Information and communications technology (ICT) development in Thailand in the next five years will move towards making the country a new "connected nation" where people at all levels will have a chance to use ICT for self-sufficiency.

Published on September 11, 2007

That is the mission set out in the country's second ICT master plan for 2007 to 2011 drafted by the ICT Ministry.

The second plan, which is now in the approval process, was developed under the country's ICT 2010 framework. It aims to utilise ICT to benefit society and the economy while reducing the so-called digital divide in the country.

The plan also aims to increase the value of ICT use in Thailand from only 3.6 per cent of gross domestic product in 2005 to 8 per cent by the end of 2011.

To achieve the mission of a connected nation, infrastructure, people, research and innovation, as well as management need to be developed.

Panjai Tantatsanawong, head of the consultant team drafting the plan, said the plan would drive the expansion of telecommunications infrastructure to reach people in remote areas nationwide at an affordable price to give everyone a chance to be connected to the Internet and receive equal ICT services.

Under the plan, infrastructure will cover all areas around the country and connect people and all parts of society to the network in the next five years. This will be a foundation to make the country a really connected nation.

Educating people is also a major concern, especially when the plan comes to ICT development for self sufficiency. In this area, the plan covers the development of both ICT users and ICT developers.

Panjai said the plan would give people ICT literacy so they could use ICT in the correct way. In the meantime, it would encourage ICT developers in the country to create technology.

"We're now still a technology consumer so the plan hopes to shift the country to become a technology provider," he said.

The plan indicates potential ICT areas that Thailand can penetrate related to providing ICT services. "It could be both offering ICT as an enabler for the service industry as well as providing ICT services itself," he said.

To become a technology developer, research and innovation development will play an important role to make the country self reliant when it comes to technology. The plan therefore focuses on creating cooperation among local research organisations under cluster models to drive local technology development in the same direction.

"We need to work with industries which are on the user side to understand their requirements to develop technology and services to meet industry's demand, and this will push local research and development for real commercial use," he said.

He added that to make the country's ICT development move forward, good management was also required. The plan suggested the establishment of a national organisation as a centre of all ICT development operation tasks while it would coordinate with other related organisations to implement the plan.

"The new organisation will be a key mechanism to drive the master plan into real implementation under collaborative work among related organisations," he said.

In addition, ICT development in the government sector is still a target in the new plan.

Panjai said the plan would encourage government organisations to adopt ICT to provide electronic services while eventually moving towards a new electronic government.

Now the country has only a few electronic services, but the plan hopes to drive each government organisation to develop electronic services to serve more people. It targets that in the next five years, each government agency will have at least one electronic service provided to people through the Internet.

"Government is the biggest ICT user so once the government connects with people and businesses and all of them can utilise ICT beneficially, it will bring the goal of becoming a connected nation to reality," Panjai said.

Pongpen Sutharoj

 The Nation

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